What is a uniform? Well, it’s a specific type and style of work clothing that is prescribed by an employer for all of their employees to wear. For example, if you’re in the private sector and you’re given a tuxedo, blazer, or any kind of distinctively colored clothing - that’s a business uniform.
However, in the minds and hearts of your employees, a corporate uniform transcends the notion of a mere mandated work-related garment, as it’s not seen that way by your average worker. This is illustrated by the findings of a recent multinational Ipsos Reuters survey that uncovered the following prevailing employee perceptions about uniforms.
Out of the employees that wore uniforms:
- 45% felt that wearing casual clothes made them more productive
- 55% believed that wearing prescribed office wear made them more efficient
- 34% preferred going to work in a smart uniform
Now, these statistics make for interesting reading, but it’s perhaps not for the reasons you might think. The most interesting part of the results of the study is the fact that employees are actually aware of the fact that corporate wear is not just clothing, but something that can serve to make them better at their jobs.
It would also appear that employees understand the fact that business uniforms can have a significant impact on how engaged they are with their role - as shown by the increased efficiency stat above.
So, What Is Employee Engagement?
Some people use the term ‘employee engagement’ as something of a throw-away business buzzword, but have you stopped to think about what it actually means? According to US research experts DecisionWise, employee engagement is represented by “Employees who give their hearts, spirits, minds, and hands to deliver a high level of performance within an organization”.
And organizations that have it can “Do something palpable that you can almost feel in the air. Customers are delighted and business thrives”.
Employee engagement is an emotional state where employees feel passionate, energetic, and committed to their work.
Essentially, from an employer’s perspective, engagement is an emotional state of being where employees feel energetic, passionate, and committed to their role. Unlike many ‘satisfied’ employees who see their job as transactional and do the bare minimum to meet their contractual work obligations, an engaged employee wants to grow and is emotionally invested enough in their role to CHOOSE to do things that they don’t have to.
And Why Is It Important?
Without engagement, your employees are in survival mode i.e. doing what they have to and no more, for both your organization and your clients. The old adage ‘going the extra mile is a well-used one, but it’s lasted as long as it has because it’s something that customers value when choosing whom to work with.
Companies with engaged employees on average grow profits 300% faster than companies that don’t.
Exceptional customer experiences rely on doing that little bit extra to create customer delight, rather than mere satisfaction and they result in a significant impact on your bottom line. How significant? Well, DecisionWise’s stats show that companies with engaged employees on average grow profits 300% faster than companies that don’t.
Further to that, companies with unengaged staff earn around 33% less in operating income, with engaged staff being 87% less likely to leave their roles. These are not nuances, but real-world, tangible effects that any business should take notice of.
So, How Does a Corporate Uniform Create Engagement?
When an employee is wearing a sharp, stylish business uniform, it helps them to make an emotional and mental connection between their role and values. It’s a constant reminder of their overall mission and role and it positively affects different types of people in different ways.
Essentially, when an employee is engaged, it empowers them to offer the kind of peak experiences that set the companies they work for apart from their competition. Engagement creates a fifty-fifty partnership between employer and employee and that’s when the M-A-G-I-C happens.
MAGIC is a registered mark of DecisionWise and a theory that they created. They also wrote a book on the subject called Engagement Magic. In short, after surveying 15 million professionals, they found that when companies have all of the 5 factors represented by the letters of the MAGIC acronym, engagement scores are invariably high.
Let’s see how corporate uniforms can serve to establish these Engagement M-A-G-I-C criteria.
An employee who sees their role as being significant and something that means something to them personally - rather than being a path to a paycheck - is always going to be more productive and engaged. A corporate uniform helps employees to love what they do and that work is part of who they are.
For example, someone with…
- ...an idealism motive - meaning that they’re keen to be the best they can at helping clients to solve their problems - may feel that their smart business dress allows them to deliver that
- ...a high beauty motive get to feel energized being able to wear high fashion to work
- ...a high-status motive will love how a top-notch, Uber-style corporate uniform makes them stand out from the crowd as someone of substance
And when an organization has a team full of committed employees who love what they do, there’s a palpable feeling of vibrancy in the air and that’s when businesses thrive.
When it comes to job satisfaction, autonomy and self-governance also play an important part. When an employee has the freedom to perform at their best, it benefits them and the organization they work for, as they’re able to shape their environment to suit them.
If a company’s HR department provides the same polo shirt and pants to wear every day, there’s no engendered feeling of autonomy or freedom. There are between 200-233 working days in any given year too, with changing seasons, so with a range of top-quality, stylish corporate uniforms that can be mixed and matched, a modicum of autonomy is achieved.
When a combination of jackets, waistcoats, trousers, blouses, and knitwear is available to employees, it not only helps from a cleaning perspective, but it allows them to enjoy a degree of flexibility of what they feel like wearing to work on any given day.
Professional growth is also another important factor, especially in the modern corporate sphere. There was once a time when a base set of skills would be enough for an entire career, however, the reality for corporate professionals these days is that development is ongoing, constant, and very necessary.
People view what professional progression and development mean differently and corporate uniforms can offer a sense or feeling that an employee is growing. In the case where a different business uniform is being offered depending on seniority, it can very much work as a badge of growth.
Another important element of employee engagement is the need to see positive, worthwhile outcomes from the work they’re doing. As they say, success breeds success and when an employee gives their all only to be given the news that their efforts have had little or no effect, engagement can be difficult to cultivate.
Recognition and feedback are important for motivation, as it helps employees to discern their level of impact and let’s be honest, most of us want this ASAP. How can a corporate uniform help in this regard? Well, it helps them to be perceived and recognized as a trusted point of contact for support and resolutions for the issues that customers have - instantly creating the feeling they’re making an impact.
People want to feel connected to something that’s bigger than themselves - something that shines through in many employee engagement surveys. People also want to feel part of something special, as part of a group of tightly-knitted professionals who inspire each other to reach higher than they ever thought possible on their own.
One of the biggest benefits of stylish, corporate uniform office wear is the creation of a sense of belonging and that emotional connection between themselves and the organization. Its effect really can’t be underplayed.
Why Not Sprinkle a Little MAGIC In Your Workplace?
The fact is that corporate uniforms offer more than the sum of their constituent parts, as they help people to feel engaged, included, valued, and respected. And when your organization has a team of people who feel this way, you can start to redefine what’s possible in terms of business success.
So, when analyzing your company’s workwear requirements, try and look at the subject through a different lens, as the benefits far outweigh the investment. Sprinkle a little MAGIC in your workplace and you’ll see exactly what we mean.